Dr Heike Hennig-Schmidt

Alumni Fellow

Research Project at the Centre

Can Trade Sanctions Bolster Climate Change Agreements? An Experimental Analysis

The scale of international co-operation in averting catastrophic climate change seems at the moment to fall critically short of what is arguably needed. Experimental analysis, supported by insights from both climate science and game theory, has in recent years received increased attention as a testing ground for climate change policies.
In this project  – which is a collaboration with Gianluca Grimalda, a former fellow of Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research, and three other German and Russian experimental economists – we draw on the 'state-of-the-art' experimental framework for the study of climate change policies – the so-called 'collective risk social dilemma'. Such a game reproduces in a stylized fashion the structure of incentives underlying international cooperation relative to climate change. Our study tests a set of policy proposals that has attracted considerable theoretical attention, but has never been tested empirically. Such is the possibility of combining sanctions with climate change agreements. The 'bundling' of these two instruments would make averting climate change in the country’s overall best interest, thus guaranteeing enforcement.
In our experiment we model sanctions as a form of 'punishment' that a country or a set of countries can impose on a non-compliant player. It has been shown in many public good experiments that punishment on the one hand induces high cooperation levels. On the other hand the effectiveness of punishment in sustaining cooperation has been questioned because of the endemic presence of anti-social punishment – i.e. punishing cooperators – in some cultural areas. Germany is a country where typically punishment has worked efficiently to increase cooperation whereas in Russia punishment has been shown to be detrimental for cooperation. To put these findings into the context of our experiment, we introduce an explicit international perspective in our project – which is the first time in the experimental study of climate change policies – by comparing punishment in both a national and an international context: participants from Germany and Russia will interact via the Internet in real time. The findings from this study are likely to advance significantly our understanding of international cooperation in averting catastrophic climate change.

On the Nature of Fairness in Bargaining - Experimental Evidence from Germany and PR China (September 2015–February 2016)

Fairness is at the heart of experimental and behavioral research and these findings have motivated an impressive body of theoretical economic models on social preferences. Moreover, fairness has been suggested a decisive component of cooperation; it is viewed as one important mechanism to make cooperation work in interpersonal but also in intercultural relations. Negotiations are very important in this respect.
It is, however, important to understand the nature of fairness and its fabric in the context of negotiations, as fairness is more than an equal division of resources. To this end the research project will present a new perspective on the nature of fairness by using verbal data from team discussions and written statements on decision motives in incentivized bargaining experiments. Systematic content analysis of these verbal data will be used to provide new insights supplementing other data-eliciting approaches (choice data, questionnaires). The nature of fairness will be viewed as consisting of different facets/components like allocation aspects of fairness, its normative character, the interplay between fairness and mentalizing and how fairness perceptions are affected by power asymmetry and cultural background.


August 2016 – February 2017